John Thomason's summer movie explosion

Looking at this year’s slate of summer movies, purists must finally succumb to the fact that 3-D is the new 2-D. Movies that were not shot in 3-D have been reconfigured for 3-D exhibition. If My Dinner With Andre came out in July 2010, it would be released in 3-D. I find all this a ridiculous marketing ploy, and it’s one of a handful of overriding themes this summer movie season. Here’s a look at many of the turkeys, and the promising bright spots, that will be emanating from our multiplexes for the next couple of months. (Release dates for smaller, independent movies are subject to change.)

Knight and Day
File under: Action blockbuster, Hollywood comeback
I tend to like Tom Cruise when he takes acting seriously, which isn’t very often. This actioner casts him alongside Cameron Diaz in his first role in two years. Knight and Day won’t be awards bait, but it’s nice to see Cruise actually working for his publicity this time.

Grown Ups
File under: ’90s comedy redux, arrested development
A master of the middling and middlebrow, director Dennis Dugan reteams with Adam Sandler (they worked together on Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy) for another infantile regression film about old friends (Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider among them) reliving their reckless youths over a holiday weekend. This looks excruciatingly unfunny.

Twilight Saga: Eclipse
File under: Tweenybopper thriller, dead horse
Good soundtrack, as always, but I’m so looking forward to skipping this.

The Last Airbender
File under: Action blockbuster, 3-D overkill, pretentious director
The first of inevitably many post-Avatar movies about avatars, this one’s helmed by the increasingly cuckoo M. Night Shyamalan, and it centers on a war between fire, water, air and earth. Whether this sucks or not, it’s the first in a trilogy, so be prepared for more.

File under: Tweenybopper drama, Indiewood
Teens plus drugs plus 50 Cent plus the director of Batman and Robin. How can this be good?

Despicable Me
File under: Family film, eccentric cast
A who’s who of cutting-edge comedy — Steve Carell, Kristin Wiig, Russell Brand, Jason Segel, Will Arnett — lend their voices to this animated tale about a monster planning to steal the moon. It’s probably just kids’ stuff, but with a cast like that, I hope it’s at least a little subversive.

File under: Art-house, mumblecore, highly anticipated
This lo-fi comedy about a domestic war between a single mom’s overprotective son and her potential new beau is directed by Mark and Jay Duplass, whose debut feature, The Puffy Chair, is one of the wisest, most-honest movies about relationships I’ve ever seen. Cyrus marks their ascent to mainstream moviemaking, with a cast that includes John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill and Catherine Keener.

File under: Action blockbuster, dead horse, paying the rent
Yes, that Predator franchise. Again. Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne must be hard up.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
File under: Action blockbuster
More family-friendly fantasy fluff from the creative team behind National Treasure, director Jon Turteltaub and star Nicolas Cage.

File under: Sci-fi thriller, highly anticipated
Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to The Dark Knight promises to be an intriguing, existential mind-bender, exactly the kind of cerebral genre pic we need more of in the summer movie season. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page star.

File under: Spy thriller, highly anticipated
This film’s pretzel of a plot stars Angelina Jolie as a CIA spook and possible double agent, and it’s directed by one of the genre’s foremost practitioners: Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger, The Quiet American). The Kids Are All Right
File under: Indie drama, gay and lesbian, highly anticipated
The second of at least three 2010 movies dealing with artificial insemination, this one’s about a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) whose oldest daughter decides to look up her sperm donor. Directed by Lisa Choldenko (High Art), The Kids Are All Right received raves at Sundance.

Dinner for Schmucks
File under: Comedy, paying the rent
The good news? Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. The bad news? The movie they’re in — an idiotic comedy from the Austin Powers auteur Jay Roach.

Charlie St. Cloud
File under: Tweenybopper drama
Romance, death, brooding and yada, yada, yada, with Zac Efron and Kim Basinger.

I Love You Philip Morris
File under: Indie drama, gay and lesbian, highly anticipated
Despite Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor’s names above the title, most distributors wouldn’t touch this con-man comedy because it’s about a gay relationship. Shame on them. The reviews from the movie’s festival runs have been stellar.

AUG. 6
The Other Guys
File under: Comedy, highly anticipated
Director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell made comedy magic in Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. Here, they take on the buddy-cop genre, with Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson supporting. Even if The Other Guys doesn’t live up to the expectations of its predecessors, there’s no way it will be worse than Cop Out.

Step-Up 3D
File under: 3-D overkill, dead horse
It’s a jeté, and it’s coming right at us!

AUG. 13
Eat Pray Love
File under: Road movie, Hollywood comeback, thanks for the memoirs
Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love — which boasts more than 150 straight weeks on The New York Times best-seller list — this inevitable adaptation stars Julia Roberts as the author, who forged through her divorce by traveling around the world and doing those three titular actions. That earth-shifting noise you’ll hear in mid-August is the collective sigh of millions of boyfriends and husbands being dragged to this thing.

Get Low
File under: Quirky indie film, eccentric cast, highly anticipated
Robert Duvall is already receiving quiet Oscar buzz for his portrayal of an impressively bearded 1930s hermit planning his own funeral. Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek co-star.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
File under: Comic book adaptation, highly anticipated, clunky title
Michael Cera has been coasting for years on the one character he knows how to play, and typecasting seems to have played a role once again in this offbeat, young-adult rock ’n’ romance based on a cult comic. But this picture has a hip pedigree, directed by Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright and co-starring Jason Schwartzman.

The Expendables

File under: Hollywood comeback, action blockbuster
The cast — Sylvester Stallone (who also directs), Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and even Arnold Schwarzenegger — is a rogue’s gallery of mostly ’80s movie has-beens reliving the action movies of their early adulthood. Pathetic.

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